Gwinnett early voting location opens late because of power outage

An early voting location in Gwinnett County opened more than an hour late because there was no power.

Voters at the Lucky Shoals Park Community Recreation Center began voting on emergency ballots after 8 a.m. said Joe Sorenson, a county spokesperson. The recreation center was supposed to open for early voting at 7 a.m.

The building lost power overnight. It didn’t open on time using emergency ballots because there wasn’t enough light to see by, Sorenson said.

“The gym was too dark and unsafe for usage before the sun was high enough and bright enough to provide natural light,” Sorenson said in an email. “The laptops and ballots are being issued from the foyer.”

A generator arrived after 10 a.m., but by 11:30 a.m. people were still filling in paper ballots in the hallway. Rick Doner, a volunteer for Fair Fight Action, said poll workers told him the generators had been hooked up but the machines were not yet running.

GALEO poll monitor Elizabeth Silva said voters left the line to go to other locations where they could vote using ballot marking devices. She said they want to "make sure their vote is being counted.”

Sorenson said there were were 15 voters in line at 7 a.m. and all 15 stayed until the location was open.

Jennifer Booker, who lives in Lilburn, was the first in line Friday. She said information about what was happening depended on who was talking. Booker said some voters left the line because Lucky Shoals was closed and they were told they could vote at another location that was open.

“I’m a little concerned about the paper ballot being scanned,” Booker said. “God has a sense of humor, because I said last night, ‘I want to be the first in line to vote.'"

Becky Jones, a voter who lives in Norcross, also said she was concerned that she had to use an emergency ballot.

“Too much can happen,” she said. "The only thing that gave me a little bit of confidence is they said at the end they will be scanning it.”

Sorenson said power was restored to the voting location around 11:30 a.m., but it took until close to noon before machines were operating.

Sorenson said only the county’s elections headquarters is set up with a generator. A portable generator was sent to Lucky Shoals. Gwinnett County assistant elections supervisor Kelvin Williams said the county had an uninterruptible power supply, but it was drained when the power went out overnight.

He said workers are not counting how many voters went to alternate locations during the power outage. Lines at Lucky Shoals were more than an hour long much of the morning, according to a county website.

Sorenson said the early voting location will close as scheduled, at 7 p.m. Today is the last day of early voting before Tuesday’s election.